Sheffield homeless charity benefits from Allan's artistic skills

Allan Scott hopes that the seed of his fundraising idea will grow and bear fruit for a Sheffield homeless charity.

Thursday, 21st January 2021, 11:30 am

Emmaus Sheffield is the drug and alcohol-free project that provides a home, support and work for formerly homeless people in the city.

Through its Social Enterprise programme it aims to provide meaningful work and enable the people it supports – known as companions - to eventually become self-supporting once more.

Companion Allan came up with the idea of turning scrap copper wire into miniature metallic Bonsai trees which will be sold to provide much-needed extra funds as lockdown continues and the popular Emmaus secondhand superstore has to remain closed.

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Allan Scott with one of the Bonsai trees he has made out of scrap copper wire

“We were struggling to find things to do during the first lockdown and that’s when I asked if I could organise our scrap area and make it a bit better,” Allan said.

“We are given many electrical items that we cannot sell because they have failed their PAT test and can’t be repaired - white goods, light fittings, microwaves, TVs, sound systems, speakers, just about anything electrical.

“Things like old metal bed frames can, once we have taken them, turn out to have fractures and other damage which means they can’t be sold and so we put them to scrap too.

“I strip things down to their individual components and it was when I was taking the coil from inside an old washing machine that I came across copper wire and wondered if there was anything we could do with that to make just a bit more money for Emmaus.”

Allan went online for inspiration and quickly came up with the idea to take the wire and twist it into miniature trees in the classic Japanese Bonsai style which he then places into any available salvaged containers and pots.

He now also has plans to take unwanted sheet metal and sculpt it into designs inspired by the natural world.

“When I was younger I would draw a lot but the way life goes I didn’t have an outlet for it and I forgot about it for a long time,” Allan says.

“I was homeless when I was young and over the years I’ve suffered from anxiety and I have had a bit of a gambling problem that was the main catalyst for me getting into a bit of debt.

“One little decision can send you off on a different path and sometimes it doesn’t end in a nice place.”

Allan, who is 42 and originally from Newcastle, has been an Emmaus Sheffield companion for more than a year now and he hopes his creative ideas will help give something back to the charity.

He intends to have made enough miniature trees to have ready for sale when the Emmaus store opens again following lockdown.

“The whole Emmaus ethos is taking something that has been unloved by society, giving it some special attention and giving it a new lease of life,” he said.

“Emmaus Sheffield has given me a home and a purpose and an outlet for my creativity.”

To find out more about the charity visit

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